International investment agreements, human rights, and environmental justice: The texaco/chevron case from the ecuadorian Amazon

Lorenzo Pellegrini, Murat Arsel, Marti Orta-Martinez, Carlos F. Mena

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Texaco/Chevron lawsuit, which started inNovember 1993 and is still being litigated in 2020, is a prominent example of the process of judicialization of environmental conflict. The Ecuadorian plaintiffs claim that the oil company's operations generated ruinous impacts on the environment and on the development prospects and health of nearby individuals and communities. The tortuous and lengthy judiciary process was further hindered by an arbitration process, an Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism nested in the Ecuador-United States Bilateral Investment Treaty. The significance of the case goes beyond the specifics of Ecuador and provides further arguments fuelling the protracted legitimacy crisis experienced by International Investment Agreements. The current praxis of Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms is generating an asymmetrical system, protecting the interest of investors, and intruding into the space ofhuman and environmental rights. These issues are resonating with social movements, activist scholars and policy makers who are reacting to the vulnerabilities engendered by International Investment Agreements through multipronged strategies. These asymmetries provide ammunition to resist the signing of new International Investment Agreements, support the inclusion of human and environmental rights safeguards in International InvestmentAgreements, and contribute to the rationale of pre-empting extractive projects that are likely to produce severe environmental liabilities. Some of the potential ways in which a somewhat more level playing field can be created include, in addition to denouncing investment agreements, transforming Investor-State Dispute Settlementmechanisms towards a format that can also accommodate the complaints of affected communities or enacting moratoria on extraction projects that are prone to adverse socioenvironmental impacts. Both strategies could prove to be productive avenues towards the achievement of justice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-468
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of International Economic Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


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